TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS FOR 2015 (AND HOW I DID IN 2014)

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Even though I’m a little late to the resolution party this year, it’s always fun to reflect on the goals I set for the past year and make a few new ones to abide by for the next 365 days.

Even more fun? Not even double checking last year’s resolutions, which you can find here. When I look at my 2014 travel log, it started and ended pretty unassumingly. Tucked between a mid-January stop at Monocacy National Battlefield and a pedestrian pre-New Year’s drive into McLeod County, MN (to grab county #891) was a check-off-the-bucket-list visit to an island with an active volcano, Canadian national parks aplenty, two long weekends in Florida, a weekend in the Outer Banks and the highest point in the northeast U.S.

But was I, ahem, resolute enough in 2014? Let’s check…

2014 Resolution #1 – Get to 49 States

How I did: I needed 3, I got 2. I don’t consider it an abject failure since Arizona and Nevada had eluded me for so long and, this past November, I finally made it to both states. I still have Oregon and Alaska left, and I would think Oregon would be next…

2014 Resolution #2 – Get to 800 Counties

How I did: I nearly got to 900. I needed 65 and got 156. It’s amazing how many counties you can rack up if you hit the road often, even if only for long weekends. I ended my county count for the year with the aforementioned McLeod County (MN), putting my total tally at 891.

Breeah and I made it to Montserrat, one of the least visited (but so far my favorite) islands in the Caribbean.

Breeah and I made it to Montserrat, one of the least visited (but so far my favorite) islands in the Caribbean.

2014 Resolution #3 – Visit a Tropical Island

How I did: Hit the nail on the head here when I predicted that I’d visit an island in the Caribbean. Breeah and I visited not one, but two, hitting up both Antigua and Montserrat in the same trip.

2014 Resolution #4 – See a New Sport

How I did: THUD. That’s the sound of my quest to see a new sport falling completely flat. It’s one of those things where you probably can’t force yourself to like something you don’t really like. I love most team sports, but individual sports are a tough sell for me. I love mixing in sports with travel, but with ticket prices soaring, I tend to prioritize national parks and other low-cost entertainment.

Well, 2.5 out of 4 ain’t bad. So what is in store for 2015? I’ve set four new resolutions to tackle in the coming months.

2015 Resolution #1 – Visit 3 NEW Countries

Canada isn't a new country to me, it's like my second home. I visit it at least once a year, if not more. Here I am in Yoho National Park (B.C.) last July.

Canada isn’t a new country to me, it’s like my second home. I visit it at least once a year, if not more. Here I am in Yoho National Park (B.C.) last July.

I always have a hard time with rationalizing trips to other countries (outside of Canada, which I love to almost as much as the U.S.). It’s not that I don’t want to see the world, I do with every fiber of my being. Is it a cost thing. Partly. Is it a time thing. Partly. When I obsess over so much that is a bit easier and cheaper for me to do in the States, it’s hard to throw a bunch of time and money at a trip overseas.

That said, I have a varied bucket list of destinations the world over that includes places like Greenland, Andorra and Antarctica (yeah, not really a country, I know). I would visit any of these in a heartbeat if I could afford to be more liberal with my time and money. I still plan to get to those three (and others), but it will likely be stretched over (God willing) a lifetime of travel.

Back to the resolution at hand, though. I will be visiting the Bahamas in February. The Caribbean has become a “collectible” of its own right in my travels, and almost all the islands offer reasonable attainability for U.S. resident. In 2010 I had never been south of Florida. As of now, I can count Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Montserrat in my repertoire. Bahamas will be the fifth place I’ve visited in the region, and I can only expect more in time. There are 30 political entities that make up the Caribbean, and getting to them all could be within reason for some (without blowing the bank, of course).

But enough about the Caribbean. Where will my other two countries come out of. Well, with a bevy of frequent flyer miles coming due soon, I could actually target anywhere. The South Pacific/Australia area is tempting, but we’ll see. We’ll just let this be a surprise.

2015 Resolution #2 – Visit my 1,000th County

In visiting Pendleton County, WV in 2014, I stumbled onto the Sites Homestead near Seneca Rocks. For this Sites, it was a rather shocking find!

In visiting Pendleton County, WV in 2014, I stumbled onto the Sites Homestead near Seneca Rocks. For this Sites, it was a rather shocking find!

Before I discovered mob-rule’s county counting website, I could care less about the counties I visited. Now I consider it a vital element for trip planning. Sure, I’ve taken the “long way” just to grab some counties I normally wouldn’t have passed through, but that’s not the real point. The map represents small slices of the U.S. that we’ve yet to step foot in. Despite visiting 48 states, my map will have state-sized portions in it that I’ve yet to visit. It certainly won’t allow me to be satisfied with just reaching for all 50 states. While I may never visit EVERY county (there are more than 3,000 of them), I certainly want to visit as many nooks and crannies that this great country offers. County counting allows me to easily track where I’ve been and what I’m missing out on.

2015 Resolution #3 – OREGON!

I will try and find a way to get to Oregon, though Breeah and I have decided that Michigan is in play this year as well (Michigan would be her 49th state). Either way, whoever gets to 49 first will mean that they won’t get to see Alaska until the other person gets to 49. Us going to Alaska before either has visited our 49th state would just ruin the whole quest to get to 50 at the same time – and that’s not going to happen!

2015 Resolution #4 – Complete a State

I still can't believe that I took this picture in New Hampshire in October. Mount Washington is one of my all-time favorite U.S. weekend trips.

I still can’t believe that I took this picture in New Hampshire in October. Mount Washington is one of my all-time favorite U.S. weekend trips.

While you can never visit everything worth seeing in one state (something Connecticut Museum Quest has proved), I’d like to be able to feel complete about one or two more states in 2015.

What does it take to complete a state? Everyone probably would have their own take on it, but, for me, it would at least include visiting all the counties and perhaps all the national park units within it. After that, getting through all the major cities and other important landmarks would be important notches in the state completion quest.

As far as county counting goes, I’m done with Delaware (woohoo, three whole counties!) and Maryland (24 of them).

As for states that are within range, it all depends. Connecticut (7/8) and Rhode Island (4/5) are easy contenders for a re-visit, but it would be a little more fun to tackle the parts of Minnesota (my girlfriend’s home state) I’ve yet to visit. I’m at 52 counties with 35 to go.

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